Currie Chieftains 50
Edinburgh Accies 18
COLIN RENTON @ Malleny Park
CURRIE CHIEFTAINS took another step towards securing a top-two finish with a comprehensive win that strengthens their bid for a home play-off while also damaging the Accies effort to achieve that same goal.
The visitors made life difficult for themselves by playing most of the match with 14 men after Vincent Hart was red-carded for a dangerous tackle. Ultimately, that allowed Chieftains the freedom to score freely in the closing minutes.
On that pivotal moment, Chieftains coach Mark Cairns was full of praise for the match officials, saying: “I think the referee has made a tough decision because they don’t get the chance to look at a replay. We have a guy in hospital with a suspected fractured jaw or cheekbone, so he has got it spot on. It takes courage to give a red card when there’s no ability to go for a replay.”
Of the performance, which featured flashes of excellent running rugby, he added: “I don’t think we played particularly well. We were very wasteful in possession, whether that was bad kicking choices or just coughing up the ball, so we need to put a lot right for next week at Raeburn Place.”
His Accies counterpart Iain Berthinussen was happy with certain aspects of the performance, while admitting that Hart’s technique in tackling Innes had proved costly.
“We stuck in really well. We need to get our tackle height right and it’s probably the theme of our day to be honest – our height was too high and it gave them momentum. That’s something we need to work on,” he said. “I thought we dug in deep for 45 minutes and put them under some good pressure then we just crumbled and compounded error on error on error.”
The sides largely cancelled each other out in the opening minutes. Accies enjoyed the territorial advantage during that spell without really testing the home defence and there were 13 minutes on the clock before the visitors turned pressure into points. Ruairi Campbell was tackled in the air at a line-out on the edge of the Chieftains 22, and Jamie Loomes banged over the kick to break the deadlock.
Within a couple of minutes the hosts squared matters when Adam Hall profited from the red-card decision, striking the resultant penalty between the sticks to restore parity.
Accies did not dwell on that set-back for long. Campbell hacked a loose ball and set off in pursuit. Charlie Brett gathered but was penalised for holding on and a quick penalty ended a couple of phases later with Struan Whittaker plunging over.
Within a couple of minutes, the hosts had taken the lead for the first time. A powerful run by Mike Vernel took play to within a couple of metres of the line. Two phases later the ball was passed out to Rhys Davies, who finished the job and left Hall with a straightforward conversion that handed Chieftains a two-point advantage.
By half-time, that gap had grown to nine points. Iain Sim gathered inside the Chieftains half and ran past several defenders before being hauled down just short of the target. The ball was moved wide to Kody McGovern, who might have gone it alone but chose instead to feed Brett, standing unmarked, who dotted down, with Hall’s successful conversion the final action of the half.
Sim also did the spadework for the third Chieftains try five minutes after the restart. He again slipped effortlessly past several defenders and offloaded to Ryan Stewart, who darted in between the posts to leave Hall the simple task of adding the extras.
It was imperative for Accies to score next and they did just that. Callum Ramm showed his pace and when he was captured just short of the whitewash by Ryan Daley, he regathered the ball and had another attempt before popping the ball up for Sinjin Broad to complete the task.
The Chieftains response was immediate. Their next attack earned a penalty five metres out, Hall despatched the ball into touch and from the lineout, Sim took a pass and carved through the visiting defence for the bonus-point try which Hall converted.
That left Accies with too much to do and the hosts confirmed their superiority when a looping pass by Hall found Daley out wide for try number five. Then Ryan Southern added his name to the scoresheet when he followed up a thundering effort by Chris Anderson to dot down.
Whittaker responded for Accies with his second touchdown of the afternoon, but Chieftains had the last word when Daley intercepted and sprinted in, leaving Hall with a conversion that brought up the half-century and completed a comfortable win and sets up what promises to be an interesting rematch this coming weekend.
“We need to start learning some lessons pretty quickly as a group,” said Berthinussen. “But the bonus is we get to have another crack at them next week and, make no bones about it, there’s a lot of guys away today and some guys will stay and others will come back in. That’s exciting.”
Currie Chieftains: C Brett; K McGovern, R Southern, DJ Innes, J McCaig; A Hall, P Boyer; C Anderson, R Stewart, C Ramsay, W Inglis, E Stewart, M Vernel, G Nelson, R Davies©. Subs: J Ramsay, G Scougall, A McCallum, I Sim, R Daley.
Edinburgh Accies: B Appleson; K Gossman, A Thom, V Hart, L Wells; J Loomes©, B Grainger; C Imrie, C Black, S Habib, S Whittaker, R Thomson, T Drennan, J Sole, R Campbell. Subs: E Stuart, H Campbell, A Wood, S Broad, C Ramm.
Referee: Sam O’Neil .
Currie Chieftains: Tries: Davies, Brett, Stewart, Sim, Southern, Daley 2. Cons: Hall 6. Pen: Hall.
Edinburgh Accies: Tries: Whittaker 2, Broad. Pen: Loomes.
Scoring sequence (Currie Chieftains first): 0-3; 3-3; 3-8; 8-8; 10-8; 15-8; 17-8 (h-t) 22-8; 24-8; 24-13; 29-13; 31-13; 36-13; 41-13; 43-13; 43-18; 48-18; 50-18.
Red card –
Edinburgh Accies: Hart.
Man-of-the-match: The departure of DJ Innes with a facial injury early in the game saw an early introduction for Iain Sim, and the strong-running former Southern Knights man marked his Chieftains debut by creating two tries and bagging the bonus point score.
Talking point: The Raeburn Place men will have a chance to atone for their disappointment next week when they have home advantage in the reverse fixture. That promises to be an intriguing clash.